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Thread: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

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    I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    I currently own a Canon 5D MKII and I need a flash and tripod asap.

    I heard Canon speedlites were great, but they seem a bit overpriced for my budget. I need a flash so I can take quick lovely pictures in low light social events, such as at parties, weddings and etc. I've been using a f/2.8 lens, but it just takes way too long to take a picture in low light so all my pictures end up blurry. I want my pictures to look as natural as possible and not a huge nasty glow like some cheaper cameras tend to do.

    I also need a nice sturdy tripod, but I do not want to spend over $300 for one. Can anyone recommend me some economical tripod & flashes? Like the best bang for the buck? There's just so many models and after market alternatives, it's a bit overwhelming. Thanks in advance.

    Btw, do I've noticed some of the speedlites have infrared and the lower models appear to not have them. Do I really need this?

  2. #2
    rob marshall

    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    I too have a 5D MkII, and I bought a Nissin Di866 flash a few weeks ago. It is supposed to be very similar to the Canon 580 unit, but is 200 here rather than 360 for the Canon. It seems to be very good quality, has more output flash power than the Canon, and has a great illuminated display for settings (which automatically rotates when you turn ythe camera). It gets excellent reviews on-line and in magazines. It doesn't have water-sealing though, so if you really need that the Canon might be better. http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-...n-fit/p1031356

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Pat

    With regards to a tripod, the first things you need to work out are a) what maximum weight are you going to be mounting on it (you really need to answer that in order to choose the head) and, b) is this for indoor/occasional outdoor, or are you going to be hiking the mountains carrying it.

    If your going to be doing a lot of walking with it, then you want to think light; i.e. carbon fibre.

    In terms of specific manufacturer and thinking abiout the budget you've set, a lot of us on here seem to have gone with one or other from the Manfrotto range. There are, of course, others that you can and should look at, but Manfrotto has captured a very big slice of the market.
    Last edited by Donald; 12th March 2011 at 06:34 AM.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    I appreciate both of your suggestions. After doing some research on the Nissin Di866 it seems like it is a hit or miss. Just curious, what are you using this flash for? As far as the tripod, I have a pretty heavy 24-70mm lens so I guess I need to find a head that is sturdier? Carbon fiber sounds expensive, but it also sounds like something that may be useful in the long run. Also what's so special about the ball head vs normal? Is it just more versatile for different angles? Thanks in advance.

    So far I have found this tripod which is an extremely good deal IMO.
    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-7302...pr_product_top

    Any thoughts?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Pat

    That triops your looking at seems a bit on the light (I don't mean in terms of weight) if you're looking at 5D and 24-70 being on board. I think you'd be wanting to think about something more sturdy.

    Have a look at Manfrotto's 'Configurator' webpage. It allows you to build virtual systems and tells you whether what you've chosen will be appropriate for what you plan to mount on it.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Pat

    Just a further thought. I had a look and, indeed, that 7302 is one of Manfotto's very lightweight tripods. For your setup, I think you need to be looking at 190 or the 055 series

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Hi Pat,

    At a minimum, you're going to need a flash with swivel and tilt capability to avoid the rabbit in the headlights look that is characteristic of on-camera - straight ahead flash, which also means you'll need to be considering other ways to soften and change the direction of the light (eg the likes of a Gary Fong Lightsphere).

    Personally, I avoid off-brand products; Canon spend the $$$ developing them, and I'd rather spend more and support the people who do that, than support the imitators who rip them off. Also, from a technical perspective, investing in something like a 580EX II now may well give you a better foundation to build on laterr on (eg when you start to get in to the likes of PocketWizards etc).

    In terms of tripods, a big factor is how long your exposures are going to be - just about anything will do for shots down to say 1/5 sec ... But the cheap & light ones are unlikely to give you a good result with an exposure lasting several minutes (or even several seconds in a breeze).

  8. #8
    rob marshall

    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Pat

    Just a further thought. I had a look and, indeed, that 7302 is one of Manfotto's very lightweight tripods. For your setup, I think you need to be looking at 190 or the 055 series
    Yes, I agree with that. I have the Manfrotto 055Xprob (about 160 including the head) takes the weight of the 5D and my Sigma 70-200 (1.5 kilos!) quite well. I tried it on a lighter tripod and it felt pretty wobbly.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Thank you Donald, for the configurator page... that made it so much easier for me and Colin thank you for abolishing my cheap old ways.

    I did not take into consideration the wind while taking long exposures, good point out. I might just end up buying the 580EX II and a premium tripod. I really wanted to buy another lens, but I guess I'm going to be using it to buy the flash and tripod instead. Thank you for all your help including rob.

    What have I got myself into.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by b00gym4n View Post
    What have I got myself into.
    Don't worry - you're making an investment for the long-term.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190X.../dp/B000N7VPRW

    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-496R..._bxgy_p_text_b

    comes out to $187. Or I could get a panoramic head which will cost another $200-400... decisions decision...........................

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by b00gym4n View Post
    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190X.../dp/B000N7VPRW

    http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-496R..._bxgy_p_text_b

    comes out to $187. Or I could get a panoramic head which will cost another $200-400... decisions decision...........................
    Now you're in the right ball park. Unless you're really wanting to get serious about the panoramas, I'd be tempted to skip the panoramic head and invest instead in going further up the tripod scale from the 190 into the 055XPROB. But that's just me, your needs/wants may be different

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    btw the 580 ex ii is huuge! I can't picture myself walking around a social event with that monster on.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    No worries. It's not that big and once you feel comfortable with it (which happens quickly), you'll feel okay and won't be self-conscious.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Consider the less expensive Canon 430EX ii which is smaller, lighter in weight and just a bit less powerful than the 580EX. The only real downside of the 430EX ii is that it cannot act as a master in a multi-flash setup. However, if you someday decide to use more than one flash, you can always buy the 580EX ii (or 580EX or even a 550EX) at that time.

    You also cannot use an auxiliary battery pack with the 430EX flash but, the 430EX ii, if combined with Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries provides a decent number of flashes along with a quite decent recycle time. I doubt very much if you will need an auxiliary battery pack for general use. You can always bring a set or two of fully charged batteries on any shooting job. I have a couple of small plastic battery cases specifically designed for four AA batteries which make carrying an extra set or two of charged batteries quite easy.

    I don't know the cost of a 430EX ii flash in the U.K. but, here in the USA, it is one of the best flash values (new) in the Canon line of Speedlites.

    Whatever flash you decide upon, make sure that it both tilts and swivels. Working with a flash that only tilts can pose problems when bouncing.

    Additionally, make sure that you get or fabricate a diffuser/reflector. I personally like the Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro ( www.dembflashproducts.com ) but, there are many others on the market to buy or even to fabricate. Bouncing a flash with a diffuser/reflector can provide natural looking lighting which is the hallmark of good flash photography.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th March 2011 at 10:31 PM.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Thanks I was just watching some youtube videos on the 430 ex ii vs 580 ex ii and it seems that they are both wonderful flashes. I also live in the u.s. and the there is approximately a $260 difference between the two.

    The 430 EX II looks like the best choice for me as of right now and maybe they will come out with a 580 ex iii by the time I need to use multi flashes? Anyways thanks for the info again. I now have a good idea on what I need to buy.

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    Re: I need help purchasing a Flash & Tripod. Suggestions, experience, welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by b00gym4n View Post
    I did not take into consideration the wind while taking long exposures, good point out.
    It's been said that there are only 2 types of tripod: "Good" and "Cheap"

    I might just end up buying the 580EX II and a premium tripod. I really wanted to buy another lens, but I guess I'm going to be using it to buy the flash and tripod instead.
    Horses for courses, but I'd be inclined to just get the 580EX II. Don't forget that the WORST kind of lighting is on-camera flash pointed at the subject - so if you want quality light you're immediately into bounced or diffused light - and that's when you need the power. Would a 430EX do it? To be honest, I don't think so a lot of the time ... my usual weapon of choice is TWO 580EX IIs firing into a shoot-through umbrella. Not too bad at night, but a different story when you're trying to get directional light during the day, and thus have to overpower the sun to a degree.

    Also, I suspect that working a 430EX II at full power is going to wear out something faster than a 580EX II at 1/2 power.

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